Translator: Kurehashi Aiko
The gentle sunshine came into the room through the open windows, illuminating the table which has a pure white tablecloth with tons of fruits and baked sweets sitting on top of it. The guests gathered behind the table were enjoying their cups of tea alongside the quiet sounds of music. At the top of the table were sitting the center figures of today’s party: the Marquis himself and Lucius, who was sitting right next to him. While sitting right next to my husband the whole time, I kept on glancing at Lucius occasionally.
It was the third day since Lucius was placed in the care of Lancet family, coming to live together with us. And for the past two day we all spent our time preparing this little party for the various nobles that were currently present.
At the current moment, Lucius was busy having to engage the guests in various forms of small talk and friendly chatter. The Marquis, of course, was doing just that with all other guests, looking as though entertaining them was as easy as breathing for him. And the women flocked towards them without any reserve, looking excited and smiling brightly. It was actually amazing how Lucius was able to entertain the guests with words alone, both young and old alike.
Speaking of that man and myself, we were also doing our best to enjoy ourselves. Even though that man rather reluctantly parted with his usual black robe, he wore an outfit that was more becoming of a noble. But even though it was supposed to be a party, his usual expression did not change. That being said, before the party he was the one who insisted that he’s going to handpick the herbs that were going to be used in making today’s tea, and wouldn’t anyone else do it for him. He hardly ever spoke to anyone, instead his attention was focused on Lucius and observing his every move. Even though everyone else was pretty sure at this point that nothing suspicious or dangerous was about to happen, that man was the only one to keep his mind at high alert at all times. This behavior made me want to let out a deep sigh of concern.
My role here was simply being an added bonus to that man. True, I knew the Marquis to some extent, but not good enough to be able to talk to him directly. But even so, I should be thankful that I was allowed to be here. The sweets were delicious, the ladies were wearing pretty dresses, the garden and the courtyard were huge and the flower decorations were unlike anything I have ever seen before in my life. Because that man was successfully scaring away anyone that would want to talk to me, I could enjoy all the fine sweets and the tea to their fullest without any interruption. Otherwise I don’t think it would be possible for me to be able to do just that.
If there was anyone to whom that man would occasionally talk to, that would be Lucius. And since Lucius had some experience in the way that man could behave, his answers were always honest and with a smile, completely devoid of awkwardness or any negative will. Observing him like that, I would raise my cup of tea towards my mouth from time to time, taking a sip. Being here together with that man was far more reassuring than having us be separated.
While I was thinking that and placing a couple of colorful macaroons on my plate, I could see one of the young girls wearing a light yellow dress separating from the group that was surrounding Lucius and approaching me.
「Good day, Filmina-sama.」
「Oh my, if it isn’t Malena-sama. It’s been a while.」
Malena was a famous young gourmet chef around these parts and for the longest time she’s been invited to tea parties and dinner parties to try and taste new dishes. And judging by the look on her face she was clearly enjoying herself.
「Yes, it certainly has been a long time? Would you mind if I talked to you for a moment?」
She then walked even closer and took my hand in her own. I took a glance at that man sitting right beside me, and it was at this moment that Malena also noticed his presence.
「Ah, umm, Agedilus-sama. Would it be quite alright with you if I borrowed your wife for a moment?」
Despite sounding bright and cheerful, I could clearly feel that her hands were shaking quite a lot. Sensing that, I looked her in the eyes and gave her a look that I hope was a signal that there was nothing to be afraid of and that her fear was pretty much baseless. When the man looked at me, his expression was more or less saying “If you want to go, then feel free to go.” I knew that if I go with Malena he would be left all alone in here, but if he said he was fine with that, then I should take him by that offer and do just what I wanted to do.
I finally nodded in agreement and almost immediately after that Malena took me somewhere else where we could talk freely. Now that I think about it, it seems that this tea party has gathered many people I know in one place for some reason.
「Good day to you, Filmina-sama.」
「Thank you, everyone. Good day to you as well.」
Here at this tea party hosted by the Marquis, each lady was smiling in a way that was more dazzling than the rays of the sun, and friends could meet with one another to talk about many different things in a leisurely way. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and that enjoyment was making everyone look even more beautiful and handsome than ever. I, of course, was one of such people as well, and the fact that I could be here together with my husband made me even happier.
I smile just thinking about it, and it was a smile that I wouldn’t be able to make one year ago. We then talked about the latest rumors and gossip, but just about then an awkward silence fell in between us. Huh? When I tried to look at Malena ask her what’s wrong, she initially avoided my gaze but eventually looked at me, as if making up her mind. Just when I was about to ask, she was the one to speak first.
「Umm, Filmina-sama. There’s something I would like to ask you.」
「S, sure. What’s the matter?」
Malena’s cheeks suddenly turn bright red as she walks closer to me. She then whispered right into my ear “It’s about Lucius-sama”, as if afraid that someone might hear her.
「…… Excuse me?」
It took me a second to register that, and I blink rapidly in visible confusion. I get that by “Lucius-sama” she meant the same Lucius that was attending the party, but I clearly didn’t expect to be asked about him so openly like that.
「Is it true that Lucius-sama is currently staying at your mansion, Filmina-sama?」
「W, what if I said yes……?」
Personally, I don’t think it’s anything all that special. Especially since he wasn’t doing anything all that special or suspicious, basically following us around and practicing brewing various herbal teas together with me. At least I can’t think of anything out of the ordinary. After brewing tea, he would go to that man’s workshop whenever he would have time and ask him to try it, but that man’s response was always the same and clear as ever. And no matter what kind of tea Lucius would brew for him, that man would always refuse. He was pretty adamant about that.